October 18, 2010
The Politics of an Environmental Disaster
Thursday, October 21, 6:30-9:00 GEA 105
The floods in Pakistan have devastated some of the poorest rural communities in the world. Official estimates of destruction are so high that it’s hard to fathom a recovery any time soon. Yet twelve weeks after the floods it seems that the international community has moved on. This indifference to human suffering as well the lack of proper examination of this calamity echoes the troubling questions raised in the aftermath of recent environmental disasters like the earthquake in Haiti, Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
In the case of Pakistan’s floods, American and European media outlets failed to report on basic human suffering. The meager coverage of the floods was overshadowed by media speculation about Islamic extremists. Consequently the biggest humanitarian disaster in recent memory received disproportionately little aid. The Fighting the Flood coalition is organizing a teach-in forum to highlight the important questions that remain unasked by mainstream media outlets. Two months after a successful campus fund raising initiative on campus we want to shift our focus to a political campaign to raise issues of social justice and demand accountability for the victims of the Indus Floods of 2010.
· How did race and religion factor into the coverage of the Indus Floods? “Compassion Fatigue” or Orientalism in Disguise?
· The making of disasters. How “natural” are environmental disasters?
· What is the role of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank in this disaster?
· When the farmland became a lake… One student’s account of his village’s destruction
· Fighting the Flood- Spreads the Love- A report from UT student mobilization. What is to be Done?
Speakers: Prof. Snehal Shingavi, Raja Swamy, Mubbashir Rizvi, Hafeez Jamali, Noman and Elizabeth Baig. Interviews with Pakistani Academic/Activists Prof. Sadaf Aziz and Prof. Mushtaq Gaadi.